Excerpt from Gail Z. Martin's DARK LADY'S CHOSEN

As part of the author's Days of the Dead blog tour, here's an extract from Martin's forthcoming Dark Lady's Chosen (Canada, USA, Europe). It's Gail Z. Martin's fourth novel, following The Summoner (Canada, USA, Europe), The Blood King (Canada, USA, Europe), and Dark Haven (Canada, USA, Europe).

You can read the first chapter of Dark Lady's Chosen here.


“That went well, don’t you think?” Malesh of Tremont stretched out on the divan. Although he’d observed the night’s battle from a distance, killing the Caliggan Crossroads villagers had more than sated his thirst.

“An excellent start,” Senan replied. “Any particular reason you watched from the forest while the rest of us did the fighting?”

“For the same reason generals don’t fight on the front lines. I wanted to see the way the forces aligned. See what Gabriel and Riqua could bring against us. And I wanted to see how Jonmarc Vahanian would handle true battle against vayash moru.”

“And?” Berenn asked. Senan and Berenn were two of Malesh’s inner circle, young nobles near his own age whom he had brought across to make existence within Uri’s brood more tolerable. Tonight, they took shelter together in one of Malesh’s safe places, the remnants of a family crypt beneath the ruins of an old manor house. It was one of the many such places Malesh had prepared for the night when battle would begin. Comfortably outfitted with chairs and beds, stocked with a supply of bottled goat’s blood and lanterns, this safe place and the others like it had room enough for Malesh and his coterie.

“Our strategy is sound. Send the volunteers from the other broods against the Old Ones defending Vahanian. Pick off his best defenders.”

“Vahanian killed three vayash moru himself,” Senan countered. “I’ve never seen a mortal fight like that.”

“Another reason to let the newer fledges find his weak points for us,” Malesh replied.

“Can we expect reinforcements? What of Rafe’s and Astasia’s broods?” Berenn asked.

Malesh smiled. “Neither Rafe nor Astasia want to take sides. By not opposing us, they support us. Their broods are free to decide for themselves—and some of them are joining our ranks.”

“This must end.”

Malesh and the others looked sharply toward the corridor. Uri stood in the doorway. For once, Uri was completely lacking the golden chains and jeweled rings that were his signature. Gone, too, were his elaborate waistcoat and his frilled shirt. Dressed in black without ornamentation, Uri looked more like a mourner than a lord.

“End?” Malesh questioned, languorously swinging his legs down so that he sat up to face Uri. “We’re only getting started.” He fingered the talisman around his throat, the blood magic charm that shielded his thoughts from his maker. “What’s the matter, Uri? Hurt that we didn’t invite you to the party?”

Uri’s dark eyes glinted with anger. “Riqua and Gabriel are bloodsworn against us—not just your fledges, but against all of my house. Tresa and Calthian are dead—killed as a warning and left at Scothnaran’s doorstep. I’ve sent the rest into hiding.”

“Some may be hiding—but the rest came to me. If they didn’t want to fight before, seeing Tresa and Calthian murdered made them ready to see my point of view.”

Uri stepped into the room. “You’ve destroyed two villages. How long until King Staden sends his troops against you? Even if you kill Vahanian—and it’s going to be harder than you think—Staden can’t let you succeed. Once the burnings start, the mortals won’t be worried about ‘good’ vayash moru and ‘bad’ vayash moru. They’ll burn us all.”

Malesh looked away, pointedly toying with the gold chain at his wrist. “Then we will unite against a common enemy and take what is rightfully ours. That’s what you’re afraid of, isn’t it, Uri? Burning?” He stood and faced Uri. “Do you know what I fear? I fear an eternity pretending to be less than I am. Playing the servant when I’m born to be the master. We deserve to rule over the mortals. You said so yourself. We deserve to rule with the Goddess because we are gods ourselves.”

Uri’s move toward Malesh was blocked by half a dozen vayash moru. “This isn’t the way to do it. Mortals outnumber us. We can’t make fledges as quickly as they breed. Even if they die by the hundreds, by the thousands, there are more of them left to hunt us.” Uri looked around the impassive faces of Malesh’s circle. “I remember being hunted in Trevath.” He swept aside a crystal pitcher with his arm; it shattered on the floor, spraying blood across the room.

“You think you’re safe in your hiding places. The mortals can track you if they want to badly enough. There are Hunters out there; Trevath and Nargi have never stopped using them. There are mortals just looking for provocation to send out the Hunters, and you’re giving them exactly what they need to turn others against us.”

“All these years you’ve protested the Truce—it was just empty bluster,” Malesh goaded.

“We rule best from the shadows, behind the throne.”

“That didn’t work too well for Arontala.”

“He pushed too hard—and he was a traitor to our kind. Many mortals want what we have—eternal life, eternal youth, beauty. They’re willing puppets to gain us what we want—a say in how the kingdoms are run, power over our own destiny.”

“I don’t care to rule from the shadows,” Malesh said disdainfully. “War’s coming—a war that will sweep up the mortals of the Winter Kingdoms. When it comes, we’ll feast on blood, and we’ll be the only ones strong enough to rebuild from the wreckage. The mortals will turn to us to save them.”

“This is madness. You have to end it—now.”

“No.” Malesh swept his arm to indicate the room and the half-dozen vayash moru in it. “Your time is past. We rule now.”

Uri moved before Malesh could stop him, crushing Senan’s throat and tossing him aside. Berenn rushed toward Uri, and Uri dodged him, faster on his feet than Malesh expected, swinging around to strike again. Berenn maneuvered Uri into position with his back toward Malesh as Malesh withdrew a shiv from under his sleeve. As the vayash moru circled Uri, Malesh dove, sinking the shiv through the back of Uri’s coat and into his heart. Uri sputtered blood and dropped to the ground, immobilized.

Malesh smiled. “I had it on good authority that the old ones don’t die from a strike through the heart—at least, without other, magical weapons. My blood charms may not let me destroy you, but I can keep you from getting in my way. We’re creating what you’ve always wanted—a world where the strongest rules.” His smile faded. “My sources were a bit unclear as to how long I can keep you like this. The guesses ranged from a few days to… forever.” He signaled to his group to move toward the door. “Enjoy your rest while we fight your battle—the battle you never had the balls to start.”

2 commentaires:

Jonathan said...

That was, well... Let's just say I hope you got paid to post this. ;)

Mike said...

Great excerpt Can'y wait for this book.